Book Review #8: Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen

Hello Dear Reader!

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you and your family—especially your wonderful mom—have fun on this fantastic Mother’s Day weekend. I know we will, since we’ll be eating some delicious food for lunch and dinner.

This week’s book review is on Jane Yolen’s Sword of the Rightful King, a tale about King Arthur. It’s a retelling of a classic fantasy story about the high king of all of Britain before he was accepted as such by all people living in the kingdom, which is a really interesting thing to see. Throughout the novel, the old mage Merlin—known in this book by Merlinnus—does his absolute best to make the people of Britain accept Arthur as their rightful king, fighting against time and the witch of the north, Queen Morgause.

But before we get into this review, here is the synopsis:

Newly crowned King Arthur rules the kingdom…but not the people’s hearts. Unless he proves his worth, his power will always be in question. Too many want him dead, and treachery is everywhere

So the wizard Merlinnus secretly creates a test for his Arthur.

A sword in a stone is discovered—a stone that bears a legend promising that whosoever draws out the sword will rule England. If all goes as planned, King Arthur will draw the blade from the stone (with the help of magic from Merlinnus, of course), and the people will at last rally around the young king.

Except someone else pulls the sword out first…

End synopsis, and somehow, I don’t remember reading that very last line…

Anyway, while this book is about King Arthur, there isn’t one main character because the focus of the story doesn’t remain on the young king. Every chapter, even within chapters, the focus jumps from one character to the next. For example, one chapter would highlight the old mage Merlinnus as the main character while the next one would have son of Queen Morgause, Gawaine, as its main star. Even though the perspective does jump around a bit, it’s done so seamlessly, and the story doesn’t feel broken or choppy at all.

Despite jumping from character to character and scenario to scenario, Yolen does an extremely good job of defining the characters and their personalities. I absolutely fell in love with Arthur’s, Merlinuss’s, and Gwen’s characters, and I really didn’t like Queen Morgause, who was an exceptional character in her own right. The side characters were also really well-developed, and very few of them—in my opinion—were flat. Whenever they were mentioned or joined in a scene, they always brought a breath of fresh air.

Not to mention some of the plot twists surrounding these characters. I think my jaw dropped at one point because a character was not at all what he said he was, which was fantastic.

A chapter or two into reading this book, I realized that this book had intentional differences that set it apart from other King Arthur stories I’ve read. Instead of Camelot, for example, King Arthur resides in Cadbury. A few of the characters’ names, such as Merlinnus, are different from what they’re commonly known by. While many of the places in this world are merely mentioned and not described, Yolen does a really good job in tying them all together. Throughout the book, I was able to get a really good sense of how far these places were from each other because of modes of transportation and the time it took to get from one place to another. The different geographical areas several of these places are in also contributed to the vastness that is England in this book.

I really loved this book because of how well-written it is and the nostalgia it brings. I remember being so obsessed with King Arthur and Camelot when I was a kid, and reading this novel brought out the child in me. It was a very refreshing feeling.

So, Sword of the Rightful King rating:

10/10 and will probably be looking for more books by Jane Yolen.

There was nothing I disliked about the story at all, which is completely biased on my part. The twist at the end was very, very shocking, and I hope it shocks you if you ever get your hands on

That’s all for this review, dear reader! I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I hope you give Sword of the Rightful a read.

Thanks for reading!

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